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61st Academy Awards

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61st Academy Awards
220px-61st Academy Awards.jpg
The Oscar ceremony that made history for all the wrong reasons.
Running Time: 3 hours, 19 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: March 29, 1989
Network(s): ABC
Starring: Allan Carr
Rob Lowe
Eileen Bowman

The 61st Academy Awards ceremony, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 1988, and took place on Wednesday, March 29, 1989, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, beginning at 6:00 p.m. PST/ 9:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented the Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 23 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Allan Carr and directed by Jeff Margolis. Ten days earlier, in a ceremony held at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Angie Dickinson.

This awards ceremony is widely considered to be the worst one in the history of the Oscars up until the 93rd and 94th Academy Awards in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and for good reasons.


Rain Man won four awards, including Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman, Best Director for Barry Levinson, and Best Picture. Other winners included Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, with three competitive awards (and one Special Achievement Award); Dangerous Liaisons, with three awards; and The Accused, The Accidental Tourist, A Fish Called Wanda, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, Beetlejuice, Bird, Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie, The Milagro Beanfield War, Mississippi Burning, Pelle the Conqueror, Tin Toy, Working Girl, and You Don't Have to Die with one each. The telecast garnered almost 43 million viewers in the United States.

Why It Got the Poison Apple

  1. No host, since it took a break.
  2. The music is ear-bleedingly awful.
  3. Poor use of Snow White, who was portrayed by Eileen Bowman.
  4. Snow White was also given a really irritating Minnie Mouse-style voice.
  5. Rob Lowe sang a parody of "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, which became infamous for its sheer awfulness.
  6. Also, the song goes on for 12 minutes; some people say that the song wouldn't be so bad if it had been only 4 minutes long, but producer Allan Carr decided to extend it.
  7. This was basically the Academy Awards edition of The Star Wars Holiday Special.
  8. The Walt Disney Company sued AMPAS over the illegal use of Snow White's image.
  9. The telecast would be the last time Allan Carr would ever be given a production job before his death from liver cancer in 1999.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. For the first time, presenters announced each winner with the phrase "And the Oscar goes to..." rather than "And the winner is...".
  2. Some awards were considered well-deserved.
    • Rain Man won the Oscar for Best Picture.
    • Tin Toy won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, the first of many for Pixar.
    • Richard Williams won a Special Achievement Oscar for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
  3. This was the first Academy Awards where comedian Bruce Vilanch acted as the head comedy writer of the show, a position he still holds as of 2018.
  4. As horrible as this ceremony was, it was thankfully nowhere near as abysmal as the 93rd and 94th Academy Awards in 2021 and 2022.